Recent Changes Proposed to the Refrigerant Rules
Posted: January 26th, 2023Authors: Jeannette F.
The American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) act was enacted by Congress on December 27, 2020 to direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to curtail and restrict the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 85% in the United States by 2036. HFCs were developed as replacements for ozone depleting substances used in the refrigeration, air conditioning, aerosol, fire suppression, and foam blowing sectors. However, they are greenhouse gases with high global warming potentials. The three main goals of the AIM act are (1) to phase down the production and consumption of listed HFCs, (2) manage the listed HFCs and their substitutes, and (3) facilitate the transition to next-generation technologies. The U.S. EPA is proposing new rules to achieve these requirements of the AIM act.
What is the proposed rule?
The U.S. EPA has two approaches to limit HFC’s in certain sectors and subsectors:
- The U.S. EPA is proposing to restrict the use of HFC’s in manufacturing, importing, exporting, packaging, selling, or distributing products containing restricted HFC.
- The U.S. EPA is proposing to set Global Warming Potential (GWP) limits for certain higher-GWP HFC’s.
Recordkeeping and reporting requirements have also been proposed for any entity that domestically manufactures or imports products that use or are intended to use any of the restricted HFC’s.
When would the rule go into effect?
The proposed rule would prohibit the manufacturing and importing products containing restricted HFC by January 1, 2025, and later, prohibit the sale, distribution, and export of products containing restricted HFC by January 1, 2026.
The GWP limits will go into effect based on its sector and subsector; more information on this can be found in the U.S. EPA Fact Sheet linked below.
Who would this apply to?
The proposed rule would apply to sectors and subsectors in the aerosols, foam blowing, and refrigeration industries, air conditioning industries, and heat pump industries. These restrictions apply primarily to newly manufactured products and equipment, and any existing imported equipment and used products that do not meet the proposed GWP limits or other restrictions. These restrictions do not apply to any product that receives an application-specific HFC allowance under subsection (e)(4)(B) of the AIM Act. For more information regarding sector limitations and other exemptions, please see the U.S. EPA Fact Sheet linked below.
How might these changes affect my facility?
If your facility falls under the sectors or subsector applicable to the GWP limits, or your facility participates in any of the activities that will be prohibited in 2025 and 2026, your facility may need to transition to lower-GWP substitutes in order to stay in compliance.
How can I comment?
Comments can be submitted to the U.S. EPA via the Federal eRulemaking Portal, via mail as written comments mailed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Docket Center, Air and Radiation Docket, Mail Code 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004, or via hand deliver as written comments to the EPA Docket Center, WJC West Building, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004. All comments must include the Docket Identification number EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0643. Further instructions can be found on the published proposed rule on the Federal Register. The comment period closes on January 30, 2023.
Where can I find additional information?
The EPA Fact Sheet and Press Release can be found on the U.S. EPA website, the Proposed Rule can be found on the Federal Register. ALL4 is following this and will continue to provide updates on regulatory development for the HFC’s and this proposed rule. To understand the impact to your facility, ALL4 can support efforts to compile an inventory of HFCs and/or HFC-containing equipment on-site, review currently used materials compared to the proposed restrictions and limits, and provide a summary of impacts. This will allow your facility to assess if HFC substitutes or equipment change-out will be required. If you have any questions on the HFC’s or other refrigerant-related topics, and for any additional information, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact your ALL4 project manager for more information.